The Social Medea

“Child, I have been hearing a lot about this social Medea, something related to phones, laptops, it is the future communication method, it seems. And you… You are always glued to your phone. But what does Medea have to do with all that? Medea! The priestess of the most frightening Greek Goddess of all the Greek mythology, who sends all the misery to the World. But all of you go on and on about the Social Medea, Social Medea…”

“Granny! You need to be more attentive when you listen to the news! It is Social Media!”

________________

Hi Granny!

These Chinese whispers/telephone has really made me laugh. In reality, there are many articles on how social media is actually devastating, similarly to MedEa, whom you mentioned. However, if employed in a sensible way, social media is quite a convenience for fast and efficient communication.

What is social media?

These are various Internet “spaces” that are located on different addresses (just like people!) Communication happens instantaneously. The same way in which I am sending a SMS and it gets to the recipient, you could send images, videos and audio recordings without any post, any queues. Even Hermes could not dream about such speed (even with his winged sandals).

Let’s take a look at the 4 most popular social media channels:

Facebook. FB. Our lives have become too hectic “Hi, hw r u, brb” (Hi, how are you, be right back). No time could be spared on writing the whole words!
Facebook consists of personal profiles (like social online passports, which we execute to our liking). Through your personal profile you could upload (=put online) pictures. Or “check in” different locations. Similarly to the stamps they used to give you when you were visiting a national tourist attraction. Thanks to Facebook and its “connecting people” feature, I managed to find my classmates from High School as well as keep in touch with my university friends who are dispersed all around the World.

Twitter is another social media channel that I have talked to you about. Please revise here.

I have also explained what LinkedIn is – the professional network which serves as a portfolio and CV in one.
Instagram: This is a website which is mainly oriented to photo sharing. The use of hashtags is obligatory to make the pictures more searchable and well… popular. The unwritten rule here is that the more filters and/or abstract thinking are present in our Instagram pictures, the more likes, shares and comment one will get…

_____________

“I would never swap one of your baby photos even for a thousand Infragrams..”

“It is Instagram, Granny!”

“You are rather accurate when it comes to these new things. But if I ask you to make a filo pastry from scratch… I will sit aside and watch you “refreshing” and “restarting”…”

“Touché, Granny, touché!” 🙂

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What is a voucher/vulture?

Hi Granny!

I remember your stories about food coupons they used to give you. As there were not too many options, your choice has been much easier. Queues were super long yet social. People used to talk while waiting to turn these papers into real food.

If you only knew how coupons have changed! Now there is an abundance of choice! No queues, everything happens online. The social element is close to non-existent. However, consumerism is there, at the very top!

One of the websites offering coupons is called Grabo. Sounds a bit predator-like: to grab as much as possible! There are so many options and so little substance. My association between “voucher” and “vulture”thus becomes inevitable… Maybe it is just another coincidence.

Whether it is spa for two, lasagna for three, fish spa pedicure or tasteless picture made of “diamonds”.

All sorts of temptations for pocket money! Not bad, one may think initially. But what is the real price we pay for such discounts, hot deals?!? Who do you end up in one sauna with? The “cool” guy who can barely structure a single sentence correctly or with some annoying squeaky woman who gets on your nerves after the first minute?

Discounts: our contemporary desire machine in which expectations and ego grow at the expense of real appreciation, modesty and humility. We get exposed to more and more items daily…

This is what a coupon is: the triumph of the material over the spiritual!

As it turns out solely 1% of the purchased goods remain in active use in 6 months’ time (Check out “The Story of Stuff“). If it breaks, we throw it away! If it goes out-of-date, we buy a new item! After all, who needs an old-fashioned toaster? We must not live a mediocre life 😉 We must consume! Consumption (and especially overconsumption) demonstrates happiness and true success. How to resist buying the newest toothpaste with bacon aroma?!?

This will be the very moment when you will remind me about all these things that money cannot buy! It is real good to remember them: the real “things”. Not brainlessly citing beautiful quotes from famous authors, but really take the time to contemplate on true value, consumption and real needs.

To Granny regarding Saint Valentine’s Day

Granny!

How little love there will be today! How much chocolate would certainly get eaten!

(Regardless of the heart shape, it still contains the same calories it normally does during the other days.)

How much latex filled with air on a stick would drift along the streets!

How many educational articles would inform us about the martyr Saint Valentine and the origin of the holiday!

How much hatred would flow from rebels, single people and demagogues would preach that Love should be celebrated daily, not solely on the 14th February!

How many angry statuses on Twitter would mention hypocrisy and marketing; pure love turned into dirty business!

How many girls would encourage their boyfriends when getting just another heart-shaped balloon “Oh, how sweet of you!”. Then being just on the verge of disappointment “What was he thinking with this balloon?!?”, they would get some chocolates and maybe even some heart-shaped earrings!

What an emotion St. Valentine’s was at school! The first condition was for the headmistress to approve the existence of a Valentine’s box where all the students can drop their love letters. It used to stay close to the main entrance. One week before the holiday. Enough time for the boys to come up with something, and also for the braver girls to express themselves.

The second condition was the lack of money. If the boys wanted to buy us a gift, they should have sacrificed their pocket money. The result? Either a poor gift, or hunger. A really bad idea! The Valentine’s box was an obvious necessity! Free love has always been the end-of-the-rainbow!

The third condition: the anticipation! You never knew whether you would get any letters, how many you would get, who would the sender(s) be… Would there be an evil rat who would have written a fake card just to embarrass you? Would there be confessions? How would they be phrased? Would the person responsible for the box confuse the classes? Would somebody else get your letters?

I used to adore this day when I was little! Regardless of whether I was disappointed or happy: I had the single hope that Somebody would be truly brave and would tell me “I love you!” Via a card, on a piece of paper, on a napkin…
When I grew up, I started to understand that this day is actually a Catholic holiday (not Orthodox), that it is merely a legend not underpinned by any facts, that it sucks to celebrate it like everyone else does… etc.

A few years back, my strong desire to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day cropped up again! The same emotion that I used to have running along the school corridors! Back then, I was dating a romantic guy who managed to make most of my days special. Nevertheless, I still wanted to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day just like at school. Something like a second chance for Santa Claus to turn out real! However, my boyfriend did not succumb: he was a firm believer that this holiday sucks and started explaining to me things I already knew. At the end love seemingly won!

So here I am, at home! Candles. Beautiful table laid. 2 glasses, wine, excellent aroma, a card, kind words. I sit down. I get some kisses and compliments. Then the pan approaches. Oh, nooooooooooo!

Tens of shrimps’ eyes are looking at me! I hardly stop my tears: my favourite dish is staring at me! I do not want them to stare at me: I just want to eat blind shrimps and love. They keep looking at me and what is worst – he keeps looking at me too! Everyone expects something from me!

I thank him for the gesture, but explain my concern about the shrimps with eyes on them. I cry. I eat one just out of respect. And although I leave the eyes in my plate, I am sure the one I ate somehow can still inspect me from the inside…

“You were right. It was a silly idea to celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day!”

——-

Now I am ready for any type of St. Valentine’s Day.

There is only one important factor: I have people who I love. And this is great.

Love,

A.

On beauty: From the Fairy Godmother to Photoshop

Hi Granny!

I remember how much you despised when I was continuously asking you to re-enact “Cinderella” with me. I was going in the other room to change as if the Fairy Godmother has done it with her magic wand. (I know I’ve lost the whole male audience. But anyway you are way too logical to get the essence of magic haha).

Today, Granny, beauty is distorted like “The scream” by Munch.

Huge lips, shiny contact lenses in neon colours, pink/purple hairs, several layers of make-up (like stucco)… But what is new is that if one is not naturally beautiful and the before-mentioned “tools” cannot help, plastic surgery has advanced big time, and there is also Photoshop.

Photoshop, Granny, is a computer programme, which edits images. There are a number of tools that can make your face look better, change eye colour etc. Most importantly women never have any wrinkles, pimples or other defects after the use of Photoshop! It is like a digital cream with a monthly fee! Logically, all sorts of posters, adverts and magazines are publishing the perfect woman: porcelain-like face, incredibly sexy body and thick, shiny hair! Yes, a lot similar to each other, but anyhow aura, radiance and intellect are not of first need. Today it is much more important what we look like than what IS within us. “Beauty is only skin-deep” has transformed to “Fake tits and lips for all, forever!”

With the idealization of the perfect, Photoshop woman, it turned out that many women are easily manipulated. They have decided to resemble an image from a magazine, because “men like that.” Without even taking into account that their inner-world and energy will last longer than their false lips and volumized hair. And don’t get me wrong: I am not against dolling up. On the contrary, I think it is particularly charming, when done for the self. But the ideal imposed by the outside world, should stay exactly there: outside.

I remember a really sweet story of yours. Some photographers were coming at your school to take pictures for the calendar. The ideal woman back then was “white and fatty”, but unfortunately you were tanned and slim. So before the picture was taken, you put some bread in your mouth to make your cheeks look chubby. Then you and Minka talked about Dechka (who was “white and fatty”) and dreamed about a machine that will take some meat of Dechka’s cheeks and glue it to yours. So that both of you are liked!

Real ancient gooses, if you ask me… 🙂

Fifteen years later during your class reunion, the most handsome guy came to you and confessed he truly liked you back then. You said ‘Really? But people used to like “white and fatty”. I cannot believe you liked exactly me – slim and tanned…”

There has always been an ideal, forced by the society and/or the media. Still magic dust seems like a much more unusual and attractive way to beautify than the scalpel of Dr. Enchev (a famous Bulgarian surgeon)… or a computer programme.

Besides the changes both in technology and in our values I am writing to you about, some things hardly ever change. Like the personal choice: that is in our hands. Or the priorities. What are we going to develop in ourselves in order to be beautiful? Whom we want to be beautiful for? What is beauty?

I might be old-fashioned but I think that the female robots (with zero personality) walking on the streets are not beautiful, but rather “beauty-fool”.

The importance of being Earnest

“Hi, Child! I always forget to ask you whether you got a reference letter from your previous job… With a stamp and everything, so you are safe.”

“Hi Granny! No need of a stamp actually. Today I will tell you more about LinkedIn. This is a website with online profiles (like a CV), where you have to list your studies, your present and past work experience; it is also the place where colleagues can recommend you. There is your picture on it, you could take a look at other peoples’profiles and even hunt for a job Lots of companies have a LinkedIn profile. It is where they share firm news. They also hire people based on what their LinkedIn profile says.”

“But why do you call it a ‘profile’ and not full face?”

“It’s like asking why you are saying that you met Grandpa in your stream…”

“I see nothing wrong with that, he was in the same stream…”

“Yes, Granny, but it sounds weird. As if you met in the woods and not in university…I shall carry on: In LinkedIn everyone can recommend everyone for a certain skillset.”

“Who can see that?”

“Everyone to whom you send a link to your personal profile, or who finds you on the Internet. Thus, when you apply for a job, this is your sort of business card with references.”

“So what happens if somebody writes something bad for you? Can you delete it somehow?”

“Similar to the obituary: everyone used to be the perfect husband, there was no unfaithful wife, no father-alcoholic, no mother who used to cook so bad that is it beyond description… In LinkedIn there is not a bad professional! Every reference goes through your approval first before it becomes visible to the rest of the world.”

“It seems to me that this is only favourable to those looking for a job and a bit unfair to those searching for people with real skills. It is important to be earnest in these things…”

“Ah, Granny, good that you are mentioning that. Do you recall Oscar Wilde’s play  “The importance of being earnest”? The word play starts from the very title, as it turns out Earnest is also the name able to win women’s admiration

“So?”

“So why word play is tolerable in literature, in theatre, in flirting, but is not in our online CV?”

“Because you must be responsible and serious! It is not good to lie!”

“Yes, Granny, but they also lie in their job descriptions. I’ll prove it to you!”

Spectacular team: Meaning spectacularly unbearable. As if they are selected with a special test for idiocy. Team meetings often start with some inspiring bullshit from Paolo Coelho (best-case scenario)and end up with Natalia Kobilkina (brimming with wisdom, Cicero’s descendant). 

Intriguing salary: Whereas the only intriguing thing about my salary is the lacking zero at the end… Foreign companies in Sofia have come to the conclusion that they should not pay for our knowledge but for our location… Thus my knowledge costs less in Sofia than in the UK. Fair, eh?

“Opportunity for growth”: Maximum one poorly executes workshop. Meanwhile the only development we become witnesses of, is the love story between colleagues, who hide in such a masterful way, that we all know about them being together…

“Opportunity to freely generate ideas” and here comes the little, invisible font:”As long as these ideas overlap with the greedy, narrow minded boss” (9 out of 10 cases)

“So Granny, let’s not talk about the importance of being Earnest in job hunting. I am Angelina, and this is pretty enough for me. :-)”

Granny smiles here. I know her well, so I am sure she does.

 

Monologue to Granny

Hi Granny!

The subject of love has become very complicated.

Seems like we want more and more. And since we have experienced nor war, neither hunger, we also managed visiting many more countries that lots of you could visit for an entire life: our desires are endless. We have seen a lot, have eaten many apples from Eden, we have been living in such a fast pace that 1 year equals to 5-10 of your years of experience.
Hence most of us have some idealistic views on life, high expectations from our job, love and the overall complexity level of life. Relationships started having an expiry date. Things like “Oh, it is gonna last for maximum 10 years” became the trend. The real love duration has been also set to 3 years. If somebody is “fucked up” to have a child during that time – oh well, tough luck! Many online platforms offering sex, erotic chats, dates and emotions of all kind have emerged.

The opportunities have become a lot more. With them, lots of the values have faded away. (I can’t recall you leaving grandpa, or threatening him that you will find another guy… You never divorced. How was that? You needed to sit down and sort it all out. I wonder what you would have done, if you had lived in the New Era…)

As a consequence of the demands and the high expectations: dissatisfaction, admonition, and we-will-end-this-as-we-have-lots-of-other-options threats cropped up BIG TIME. We are above the society and what it thinks. Above all norms. We know that small-minded people gossip and that intelligent people talk about ideas instead. 

As a result of all these problems, relationships have started becoming weaker, rather than stronger.

Feeble. Replaceable. Frequent.

“Next relationship, please!” Morals have to be learned quickly as the next date is just around the corner. Tinder appeared. It is a platform for dating based on location. You swipe through pictures of men/women: yes, no, yes, no…
Granny! It is already enough to be physically close to somebody, to give them a super like and to go on as many dates, as you can fit in a day! No need for arranged meetings from parents, parties or research through friends! It is dead easy. And just when you feel fed up, something new and interesting comes along. So why do we need to bother to understand somebody for 10, 20, 30 years? To sacrifice ourselves? (You have no idea what we mean by ‘sacrifice’ here… He wants us to go to Spain, I want us to visit Italy. I am making the sacrifice to go where he wants, aha, it is a huge compromise!…)

You know, Granny, what has not changed since you went away? Pure love. The energy of Real Love. This Love that gives you all without promises or constraints. This Love that is not bogged down in calculations and analysis who gave how much…. This Love which does not tell off or demand, but smiles. The warmth which two people exchange with the single wish to grow together.
Recently I was told that Love and Characters are two different things. Love is there, but personal traits need time to click. It sounded a bit old-school, but yeah, perhaps it is true.

🙂

What is a hashtag?

“Child, what is a hashtag? We were thinking with grandpa it originates from German… sounds like Guten Tag or something…”

“Hi Granny! You know hashtag, it is this sign #.”

“Oh, yes! It is on the switchboard, right under 9. I have also seen it as a substitute for “number”: #3, #4… Grandpa is also saying its name is ‘sharp’ or ‘dièse’ in music.”

“Granny, Grandpa plays the violin, hence the association. Hashtag is only seemingly like a sharp/dièse. The latter is higher in pitch by a semitone. The hashtag is quite practical: it filters information by topics. When you put the hashtag before your keyword of interest (e.g. #elections2016), all the publications relevant to this subject topic appear. Thus given the enormous information on the Internet, one can search easily with the hashtag. Imagine Internet is like a gigantic encyclopedia that one cannot read in a lifetime without ‘contents’ or labels. The hashtag performs exactly this function: to provide us only with the topics we wish to read about. Simply put, hashtag has now become a part of the modern alphabet.”

“This sounds useful, Child. I am happy you like it.”

“It does not only sound useful, Granny. It IS useful. Can you imagine your phone directory being chaotic – first names here, surnames there, no alphabet order whatsoever! How much would that have slowed down your search? Hashtags help order and saves time. It is cool not to be looking for a needle in a haystack, no?”

“I got it, Child! What I still don’t get is that on the news they say that the president wrote hashtag-something and then a blue bird appears on the screen. What is this blue bird? Looks a bit ill to me!

“This is Twitter, Granny!”

“No, Child! This used to be a normal, yellow bird… They used to chase each other with this weird cat…”

“Not Tweety, Granny – Twitter! It is a part of the Internet, where messages up to 140 symbols can be exchanged. It is free and you can address your message to the whole world. It is like a telegram but free and online.”
“Like a telegram you say… But you cannot touch it, and you do not wait on the queue for hours! Back in the days in the post office I used to…”

“Granny, what is this nostalgia for  the queues in the post office? We are talking here about instant communication, no money and no inconvenience. These symbols are enough to pass a meaningful message out there! So these hashtags are used to filter millions messages each day. They are called Tweets. Hashtags are like labels that can help you find politicians’ and other rock stars’ opinions. It is the SMS of the Internet, but more social: can include a video, an image… Hashtags are the big thing nowadays!”

“I hope you are healthy, safe and sound! We used to live without hashtags! And by the way I do not think it works! I am writing #mygranddaughter and the results show me everything else, but you!”

“But Granny! The hashtag is not a fortuneteller! How can Internet know who your granddaughter is!”
“How very unuseful!”